iPad Pro Cases Inspired by a Lamborghini?
Designers find inspiration from a broad range of places. I recently stopped by the MacCase Design Studios where I noticed several images of the some pretty exotic cars on the wall. I knew iPad Pro cases were being worked on, but iPad Pro cases out of Lamborghinis?
As many people know, MacCase President and Chief Creative Officer Michael Santoro spent his earlier years as a automotive designer for Chrysler Corporation where he did three production car exteriors as well as an interior for a show car. After his time at Chrysler, he worked on a special one-off Lamborghini that was shown during the Monterey Concourso Italiano event several years ago.
When I saw the Lamborghini images on the wall I had to ask, were these designs for new iPad Pro cases or another program? It turns out that, yes indeed, there was some influence going on but not in the way I first thought. I'll let Michael explain.
"I have a draw full of these really rough sketches for a case design. It's literally just a pile of pages with slashes and colors and some interesting shapes. They look nothing like what I would describe as a "MacCase" product. This is one reason I am attracted to them. The problem is, I have never been able to see how any of this stuff would ever fit into either our Standard line of nylon products or our Premium Leather aesthetic. They are just so different. I've never even had them sampled. Many of my designs feature a pretty soft vocabulary, especially our nylon products. The two newest models, our new Messenger Bags and Backpacks are pretty organic. There is not a straight line at all on the backpack.
Yet here was this pile of sketches of what I thought were pretty cool shapes and good ideas, yet not a clear way to integrate them into the line. So the problem was two-fold: How to do a MacCase product that didn't look like a MacCase product at all? And if we were going to do something that was based on this vocabulary, when would be the right time to do it?"
Introducing the iPad Pro
With the the release of the iPad Pro, the MacCase design department started working overtime on a strategy and then designs for iPad Pro cases based on that strategy. One of the points to come out of the stagey meetings was that the iPad Pro was going to allow for some new things. While the form factor of the tablet was not that much different from a 13" MacBook Air, what people were going to do with it, how they were going to use it and what they were going to want to carry with them when they did was different.
Work on new designs for the iPad Pro cases started in earnest with the first group of products slated for the Premium Leather line. Once the drawings were sent out for sampling, everyone could take a breathe and decide which was the best way to move forward.
Cue the Lamborghinis
Then the Lamborghinis started showing up. Well not physically, but in the form of images on the wall. Michael picks up the story. "One of the problems of any successful creative anything, product line, movie franchise, recording career, is that whatever people know you for, that's what they'll expect forevermore. This is quite unfortunate but gets harder and harder to avoid as attention spans continue to shrink.
This is the preverbal "box" that artists must try not to be trapped in. Or, if at some point in your creative life you do find yourself trapped in, you must then find a way out if you want to stay relevant or creative. For many, the box represents the "golden handcuffs". The reason you are financially successful is because you produced a certain body of work that people liked. People who appreciate it will want more of it. Do you just keep doing the same thing over and over? Or do you step outside the box, risk alienating all your "fans" to do what you feel is right for your creative soul?
Everyone successful creative person and every company that produces something that people like thinks about this and at some point, has to deal with this issue. It's was the hardest things about being a car designer and trying to get your car picked for production. If you make your design proposal too radical for say, a family sedan, upper management will not choose it for production because the radical nature of the design will scare potential customers.
Because designs for cars are done 3-4 years before the car will hit the street, if you make your proposal too conservative, it will look old when it comes out and upper management will not choose it either. It's a quagmire.
So here I had all these sketches for a more radical and different case design that were dying on the vine. Should we do something that was so different? The more I looked, the more I realized that the question was not whether we should do something like this, but that how could we NOT! Once that decision was made another revelation was made. The more I looked at the designs the more I saw something familiar. This looks just like the engine cover on the Aventador!"
Sure enough, when I looked at the sketches and then at the brightly colored images of the Italian automotive sculptures passing themselves off as cars, I could clearly see the relationship. The images of the cars were here to not to be copied but as a check. As I stated at the beginning of this blog, designers are influenced from all walks of life. Sometimes, something that someone sees stays with them and then reveals itself months or even years later. There was something about the engine covers, with their crisp diagonal patterns creating analogous relationships with the parts around them that came out when Michael was searching for a solution for the next MacCase.
The best thing about the sketches, like the cars themselves, was that there was no part of the design that was not functional. All the angles and slots served a purpose and added value for the customer. So in a way the designs were still MacCase. Authentic, sincere, free of gimmick. Just stated in a different way.
We hope the new designs prove to be successful, functional, and just as attractive in real life as they do on the drawing board. But that's why we do prototypes. If they do come back looking good, you can be sure we'll follow up this blog with a full report.